Tag Archives: GVSHP

Latest Client News: Welcome Save Gansevoort! Landmarks Preservation Commission Hearing on Fate of Gansevoort Street Development Draws Huge Crowd; Community Members, Elected Officials Testify Against Massive Project

Well it’s been a while, but we’ve sure been busy. Not only are we incredibly excited to belatedly welcome Save Gansevoort as a new client to the LCG family (we’ve only been working with them for about 6 weeks), we’re happy to boast that around 150 people showed up for last Tuesday night’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) hearing regarding the contentious Gansevoort Street development that the group is determined to prevent from happening.


Save Gansevoort, which is composed of community members, preservationists, and proponents of appropriately-scaled construction, has circulated a petition calling on LPC to reject the project, saying that the development plan threatens the unique character of Gansevoort Street, its historic streetscape, and low buildings. The block in question is the only remaining intact block of one- and two-story market buildings in the Historic District, a distinctly New York gem that the developers’ plans would obliterate.

In a blistering editorial entitled, “Save Gansevoort St.; Iconic block under threat,” The Villager newspaper called the plan “nothing short of an assault on the city’s Landmarks Law.”

At the hearing, their numbers spilling out of the packed room, its foyer, and into the hallway, a flood of people took to the podium to testify against the plan. The project falls within the landmarked Gansevoort Market Historic District – a designation that LPC made 12 years ago after a long push from the community. The developer aims to build two massive structures that would dwarf the historically low buildings and market-style architecture that characterize this iconic Meatpacking District street. Quite simply, the proposed development would obliterate that character and history, negating the powerful protection of landmarking.

Last month, Community Board 2 held a Landmarks Committee hearing and full CB2 session, which produced a unanimous resolution opposing the plan. Local elected officials from all levels of government stood firmly behind the sentiments of their constituencies when they wrote a collective letter to LPC imploring it to reject the plan. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and Landmark West! have strongly opposed the project, and The New York Landmarks Conservancy, one of New York’s foremost city-wide preservation organizations, also joined in on the cause, writing its own letter to the LPC Chair, urging the institution to reject the project.

To date, over 2,000 people have signed the petition!

The LPC meeting did not yield a decision on the matter; the group will hold another meeting during which the LPC will question the applicant and discuss the plan further. That meeting, which has not yet been scheduled, will be open to the public but will not allow for more testimony.

The youngest person to testify, a girl of about 12 years old, made a brief but eloquent statement where she firmly underlined that, “Owning a building or even a whole street does not mean you have a right to that street’s history; history belongs to all New Yorkers.”

Some of the press coverage: The New York Times, DNAinfo (here, here, live tweeting of the LPC meeting, The Villager (here, here, and here), New York YIMBY, and NY1.

Latest Client News: Rally Against the Corporate University

We were thrilled with the immense show of support earlier this month, when 300 people came out to Washington Square Park to protest NYU’s financial practices, as well as those at Cooper Union and the New School. This remarkable event included an unprecedented coalition of students, faculty, staff, and labor unions at all three schools, as well as many neighbors resolute against the Sexton Plan, and other mammoth real estate developments throughout the city.

STOMP performs at the rally, showing their support for the cause. Photo by Tequila Minsky.

Members of STOMP performed for the crowd and were met with roaring approval. The rally’s heartbreaking climax came when an anonymous NYU student, “Mandy,” told her story of having to resort to sex work to fund her exorbitantly priced education.

NYU student, “Mandy,” recounts her desperate turn to sex work to afford tuition. Photo by Tequila Minsky

The rally delved into the soaring price of higher education, and its consequence of student debt that has reached crisis levels coast to coast. The two main causes of that nationwide disaster are clear: mammoth building booms on campus after campus, and vast bureaucracies whose top executives make six- and seven-figure salaries; NYU is legendary for its contributions to both.

If you were unable to attend, you may get some sense of the event from this short video, produced by NYU students.

Some of the press coverage: Buzzfeed, Observer, The Villager, Washington Square News, Metro, Business Insider, Bedford + Bowery, and NYU Local.

A Park is a Park, is a Park, or is it? In NYC, the Answer Might Be, “NO”

For the past three years or so, a large swath of New York University’s professors (who have formed a group called NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, a group we proudly represent) and the Greenwich Village community have been in a protracted and fierce struggle over NYU’s plan to expand enormously in the Village.

No one, it seems – other than NYU’s administration, especially its president, John Sexton – wants the monstrous 2 million square foot, multi-billion dollar development plan. The local community board voted unanimously against it, and 39 departments within NYU itself have voted against it. There have also been votes of no confidence passed against Sexton by a number of NYU’s schools. NYU’s own Stern School of Business – where at least two of its professors have earned Nobel Prizes in economics – voted against the unneeded, bloated and expensive plan.

It is unfortunate that in America today, many universities have become nothing more than big business, where the bottom line is most important, and education takes a back seat.

NYUFASP and other community groups have struck back hard, filing a lawsuit that would prevent NYU from implementing its plan. The groups won a big victory in court when it was ruled that NYU could not build on three strips of parkland – LaGuardia Park, LaGuardia Corner Gardens and Mercer Playground – because they are actually, well, parkland. (If you click on the link for Mercer Playground, you’ll see that it’s listed as actually part of the Parks Department!)

In NYC, not every green space is an official part of the parks department. Other agencies, like the Department of Transportation, often have authority of some of these spaces. But, fortunately, what really matters, legally, is how those spaces are used. And, in this case, some of these spaces have been used as parks for decades. In essence, NYC “gave” those parks to NYU illegally. Public parkland can’t simple be given away. In cases where the City does want to have parkland developed by a private developer or institution, there’s a legal process that has to be gone through, called “alienation,” and the City didn’t do that.

This throws a real wrench into NYU’s expansion plan, since those parks – which would be crushed – are needed for its scheme.

So, not surprisingly, NYU is appealing the decision.

What is somewhat surprising is that the City of New York is standing with NYU and appealing the ruling too. Mayor Bill de Blasio has fashioned himself as a progressive champion of the people, and that’s the basis upon which he was elected. He has shown himself to be progressive in other policies, so people are both confused and angered by the City’s response.

The appeals court appearance happened on September 24th, and, before the hearing, the NYU community, Village residents and those concerned about green spaces and overdevelopment held a rally in LaGuardia Park. Over 200 people attended, and many elected officials, including the City’s Public Advocate, Tish James, came to show their support. There was also an incredible performance by the internationally known, East Village-based group STOMP.

One of NYC’s former Commissioner of Parks, Henry Stern, supplied an affidavit for the case, saying that he tried – for 14 years – to get those pieces of parkland officially turned over to the Parks Department, but NYU blocked all attempts. He came to the rally to show his support and he also wrote a blistering editorial that appeared in the Saturday, October 4th edition of the Daily News, asking City Hall to drop its appeal.

The bottom line…everyone is still hoping that the City will come to its senses and drop the appeal. It’s not too late, and would, in fact, be the right thing for a progressive Mayor to do.

NYU Expansion Update: September 30, 2014

Park Advocates, Villagers, Elected Officials Join @ Rally/Press Conference to Keep the Village Green/Save the Village Featuring a Performance by the World Famous STOMP; NYU, City Try to Overturn Decision That Would Save Parks from Destruction by NYU Expansion

The #SavetheVillage #KeeptheVillagegreen rally

On Wednesday, September 24th, parks, gardens and open space supporters from across the City held a rally at Greenwich Village’s LaGuardia Park, decrying NYU’s and the City’s appeal of the court decision that saved that park and two other Village parks from being destroyed.  The appeal was heard after the rally, at the Appellate Division’s First Department.

Members of the internationally acclaimed East Village-based group STOMP joined the crowd and did a short performance.

The three parks in question – Mercer Playground, LaGuardia Park and LaGuardia Corner Gardens- were at risk of destruction for the sake of NYU’s outsized and unwanted 2031 expansion plan.  On January 7th, Judge Donna Mills vindicated the position of parks advocates and community members by officially declaring those parks as City parkland, effectively halting redevelopment efforts by NYU that would have stripped the community of that precious open space. NYU’s rejection of that decision and its subsequent appeal (through the City) have left a bitter taste in the mouths of many Village residents, NYU faculty, parks and open space advocates and elected officials.

Speakers included Congressman Jerry Nadler; Assembly Member Deborah Glick; State Senators Brad Hoylman and Daniel Squadron; Public Advocate Tish James; David Gruber, Chair of Community Board #2; Former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern; Actress Kathleen Chalfant; NYUFASP’s President Mark Crispin Miller; and GVSHP’s Executive Director Andrew Berman.

Public Advocate Tish James

Mark Crispin Miller, president of NYUFASP

Award winning actress Kathleen Chalfant

Former NYC Parks Commissioner, Henry Stern

Andrew Berman, Executive Director of GVSHP


You can read coverage of the event here:

Bedford + Bowery

Capital New York (here and here)

DNAinfo

The New York Post

The Real Deal

The Villager

Washington Square News (here, here, and here).

Latest Client News – Week of January 27, 2014

In our latest news, NYUFASP joined local officials, community groups and John Leguizamo to discuss the next steps in the NYU expansion.

On Friday, January 24th – two weeks after Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Donna Mills put a halt to NYU’s needlessly colossal expansion plan by ruling that the City illegally gave parkland to NYU for its development, elected officials, NYU faculty, Village area community organizations and other supporters – including actor John Leguizamo – held a press conference encouraging NYU to step back from its planned appeal and to “do the right thing” by going back to the drawing board and exploring alternatives.

Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) and the Historic Districts Council generously hosted the press conference in its offices. A slew of elected officials, including a representative from Congressmember Jerrold Nadler’s office; Assemblymember Deborah Glick; State Senators Brad Hoylman, and Dan Squadron; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Corey Johnson, spoke. Each of them expressed the opinion that the judge’s ruling was beneficial to the Village community and provided a perfect opportunity for NYU to restart the planning phase from scratch. The well-know actor and Village resident John Leguizamo added his voice to the cause, emphasizing that NYU could make an expansion that respected the culture of the community while still gaining the educational space it needs.

The community groups that filed the lawsuit, include our own NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan (NYUFASP), GVSHP and Lower Manhattan Neighbors Organization (LMNOP), as well as, Historic Districts Council, Washington Square Village Tenants’ Association, East Village Community Coalition, LaGuardia Corner Gardens, Inc., SoHo Alliance, Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, Friends of Petrosino Square, and NoHo Neighborhood Association.

LCG is proud to be working with these groups that are fighting to save the Village.